India seeing its largest surge of the pandemic so far; its chronically underfunded health system is crumbling

Seema Gandotra, sick with the coronavirus, gasped for breath in an ambulance for 10 hours, as it tried unsuccessfully at six hospitals in India’s sprawling capital to find an open bed. By the time she was admitted, it was too late, and the 51-year-old died hours later.

Rajiv Tiwari, whose oxygen levels began falling after he tested positive for the virus, has the opposite problem: He identified an open bed, but the 30-something resident of Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh can’t get to it. “There is no ambulance to take me to hospital,” he said.

Such tragedies are familiar from surges in other parts of the world — but were largely unknown in India, which was able to prevent a collapse in its health system last year through a harsh lockdown. But now they are everyday occurrences in the vast country, which is seeing its largest surge of the pandemic so far and watching its chronically underfunded health system crumble.

Source: Associated Press – ANIRUDDHA GHOSAL and NEHA MEHROTRA

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